Holiday Debate Roundup
Kind of a weird debate last night. First, a quick rundown of the participants from house left to right.
Gov. John Kasich. By now, you’ve heard about his weird hand gestures all night, and yes—they were the subject of much mockery. His defensive stabs with his fingers are off-putting to voters, and it’s impossible to think he isn’t turning people off every time he speaks. Also, he seems to have learned a new word: “encryption,” which he dropped as often as he could without confessing he doesn’t understand it. He’s finished. Why hasn’t he admitted it?
Carly Fiorinia. As rehearsed and informed as anyone on stage; unfortunately, this was her worst performance so far. Squinty and blinking under the bright lights, she seemed really annoyed at having to be there. Props for her constant attacks on Hillary Clinton, but he use of the gender card didn’t sit well with us. We get it. You’re a woman. Now what?
Sen. Marco Rubio. We’ve never seen him more on point and analytical. He never stammered, never stumbled and was able to speak in ordered bullet points. A great presenter. However, he utterly blew a chance to shut down criticism when asked if he still supported his botched Gang of 8 deal on immigration. Of course he got screwed by the Senate Democrats; he can easily and safely admit that he supported it until they backstabbed him. But he refused, because we think he believes it buys him credibility with Hispanics. And maybe it does; but he had a great opportunity to reject the attacks on his Amnesty rumors while pointing out how bad Democrats are. And like the Senator he is, he refused to speak ill. To his peril. Despite this, not a bad night for him.
Dr. Ben Carson. Sigh. Well, he was entertaining when he wasn’t lost, confused, or desperate to get off the stage. At one point, we expected him to look at Wolf Blitzer and ask, “Hey, want to see a cool magic trick?” He seemed baked. His answers were not bad, but neither were they indicative that he can go the distance. He’s going to sink further after this.
Donald Trump. What a bizarre performance. Smug and humble, proud and frightened, clear and rambling—often in the same sentence. He’s not a serious candidate, and Jeb Bush called him on it: he whined about unfairness and how everyone is mean to him especially when he’s talking about how tough he would be to Vlad Putin. Look, this guy is a loser and he probably knows it. But he’s taking valuable time away from other candidates who deserve a better shot up there.
Sen. Ted Cruz. Oddly, just as Ted Cruz was making an excellent point, he would blow it by yelling over the moderators; or, when he seemed to really be losing his place, he’d come out with sudden clarity. Although he was one of the strongest performers in the debate, this was by far his worst performance. Imagine what he could do if he pulled his head together. He was very close to winning it; he was equally close to losing it. Cruz needs to be more careful in his delivery and try to have more fun.
Gov. Jeb Bush. A lot of commentators think this was his best debate. it probably was; unfortunately, what we saw was a clear act. His focus group told him to be more of a tough guy, and even a jerk. It didn’t seem genuine; it came off as desperate. He’s hanging in there only to land a cabinet job at this point.
Gov. Chris Christie. Look, Christie is right on just about everything he says; unfortunately, everybody seems to be stupid and not listening to him, and he’s had it for the millionth time. And while everyone respects the difficult job he had after September 11th, we get it. He’s over-selling his involvement to his peril, and putting everything he can in the lens of that tragic day as rationale for his entire being. This isn’t a guy who should be doing so well in the polls. His cracks are starting to show.
Sen. Rand Paul was also there. Don’t ask us why. This guy cannot close the deal.
Okay, so the debate was boring and we spent way too long talking about only two topics: terrorism and immigration. But it became clear that there were four debates going on: Jeb Bush doing everything to annoy Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio going at it over details of Senate bills (which, contrary to Chris Christie, is interesting because both men are kind of right and kind of wrong), John Kasich attacking the moderators for not respecting Ohio or some such, and Chris Christie attacking everybody who moved. With the exception of Cruz and Rubio, these were all actors playing parts.
The Czar is fascinated every time Rubio talks to Cruz and Cruz talks to Rubio: these two are very serious about the job and seem to understand the political landscape better. Neither care much about Trump because neither want to expend critical time and energy on a guy who isn’t going to win over more voters. These two aren’t showing weaknesses: they’re starting to test each other’s strengths and that’s quite meaningful. Look for Cruz to move up and Rubio to get a bump as well.
Overall, Cruz did better handling Rubio than the other way around; look for Rubio to address this going forward and be a little more direct in his answers (although he projected a lot of clarity elsewhere).
Did you miss the debate? Well, you didn’t miss much.
Божію Поспѣшествующею Милостію Мы, Дима Грозный Императоръ и Самодержецъ Всероссiйскiй, цѣсарь Московскiй. The Czar was born in the steppes of Russia in 1267, and was cheated out of total control of all Russia upon the death of Boris Mikhailovich, who replaced Alexander Yaroslav Nevsky in 1263. However, in 1283, our Czar was passed over due to a clerical error and the rule of all Russia went to his second cousin Daniil (Даниил Александрович), whom Czar still resents. As a half-hearted apology, the Czar was awarded control over Muscovy, inconveniently located 5,000 miles away just outside Chicago. He now spends his time seething about this and writing about other stuff that bothers him.